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Producers can only compete below £5 with low-alcohol wines, says Origin Wine's Bernard Fontannaz

Published:  23 June, 2011

Low-alcohol wines will be the only way producers will be able to compete in the sub £5 category in the UK in the future, according to Bernard Fontannaz, chief executive of Origin Wine.

He told Harpers at today's Vinexpo exhibition that it was set to launch its own low-alcohol wine range to the UK as part of its strategy to have wines at all levels of the pricing ladder.

The level of duty and VAT meant it was now "not sustainable" to compete below £5 with normal strength wines. "To compete at that level you will have to have a low-alcohol wine and take advantage of any differences in duty levels."

Origin's low-alcohol range will be officially launched in the UK at Wines of South Africa's main tasting in October, but he said they had been well received at this week's Vinexpo exhibition in Bordeaux.

Its Fair & Light range will all come in at 5.5%abv and features a Zesty White, Fruity Rosé and Yummy Red. All able, he added, to still compete in the three for £10 cateogry. He said the launch comes on the back of consumer research from DoILikeIt which showed an encouraging 41% of consumers felt Fairtrade was a suitable category for low-alcohol wines.

He said he did not want to enter with a "me-too" product to First Cape's Café collection and felt Fairtrade was not only the right category, but offered a genuine point of difference to the trade.

It hopes to do the same with a new "fun and funky" approach to organic wine. Its new range from Stormhoek features a striking bright label with animal images both on the label and on the neck. Stormhoek Organic is a blend of Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and features key messages on the back including "Be Original, Smell the roses, Be True, Enjoy, Save the planet or go home". "Its organic but it's not serious," said Fontannaz. It will retail at around £6.99 and also be launched at the WOSA October show.